It seemed like the start of the end of a chapter at the French Open when Rafael Nadal disclosed his withdrawal from the competition earlier this month.
Nadal, who has won 14 times at Roland-Garros, has been dealing with a hip injury since the Australian Open. This is the first time he will not be participating in the second major tournament of the year, which he has been a part of since 2005.
Next year, he declared that it will be his final year in the world of professional tennis. This will mark a significant moment in the history of the clay-court major, a tournament that Nadal has been a dominant force in for many years.
Currently, the main concern is determining the victor of this year’s French Open in Paris, which will begin on Sunday and end on June 11.
How to watch
In the US, you can catch the French Open on NBC, Peacock, Tennis Channel, and Bally Sports. In Europe (excluding France), the tournament is broadcasted on Eurosport.
The French Open website has a list of international broadcasters and the complete draw.
The men’s tournament has a lot of potential winners.
Carlos Alcaraz, the top seed, is known for his skills on clay courts and had a winning streak of 12 matches before unexpectedly losing to world No. 115 Fábián Marozsán at the Italian Open.
In order to win another major title, the 20-year-old will potentially need to defeat Novak Djokovic, who has won the French Open twice, in the semifinals.
If Djokovic wins in Paris, he will earn his 23rd grand slam title and surpass Nadal for the most all-time wins among men. This would solidify his status as the greatest male tennis player in history.
The Serbian player, who won the Australian Open earlier this year, has not performed well during the clay-court season. He was unable to advance past the quarterfinals in three tournaments and had to sit out one due to an elbow injury.
“A new era has already arrived,” Djokovic stated following his loss in the quarterfinals of the Italian Open.
“I mean, Alcaraz is No. 1 in the world from [May 22]. Obviously, he’s playing amazing tennis. I think it’s also good for our sport that we have new faces, new guys coming up. It’s normal.
For years, we have been predicting the arrival of a moment when there will be a shift in generations.
Djokovic’s inability to secure a championship since the Australian Open and Alcaraz’s unexpected loss in Rome may provide optimism for other contenders in this year’s Paris tournament.
The winner of the Italian Open, Daniil Medvedev, is currently in top form and has the advantage of being in a different bracket than Alcaraz and Djokovic.
Casper Ruud and Stefanos Tsitsipas, both previous finalists at the French Open, have high hopes of making it far in the tournament. Meanwhile, sixth seed Holger Rune, who defeated Djokovic at the Italian Open, appears to be a rising star for the future.
‘Big three’ emerges
In the female tournament, Iga Światek, a two-time winner of the French Open, is considered the top contender. However, she has not shown the same level of control on clay as she did last year when she easily won the title and set a record with 37 consecutive victories.
Aryna Sabalenka and Elena Rybakina, who are ranked second and fourth in the world, have become strong competitors to Światek in the women’s tennis scene. In the last month, both have defeated the Polish star.
The group of three, now referred to as the “Big Three,” have been victorious in the last four major tournaments: Światek at the French and US Opens, Rybakina at Wimbledon, and Sabalenka in Australia.
According to Eurosport analyst and former world No. 7 Barbara Schett, the conditions in Paris are in favor of Światek, as she is comfortable there and has shown her strong tennis skills.
Schett believes it is beneficial for Iga to have both Sabalenka and Rybakina as competitors, as it will motivate her to maintain her position as the top-ranked player.
Światek, who has spent more than a year as world No. 1, could be dethroned by Sabalenka at the top of the rankings after the French Open. She begins her campaign against Spain’s Cristina Bucșa.
Spotlight on scheduling
In recent weeks, there have been numerous controversies in women’s tennis, leading to increased attention on the scheduling of the women’s draw at Roland-Garros.
During the Madrid Open, the ball girls on the main court were required to wear crop tops and short skirts. Additionally, players in the doubles final were prohibited from speaking after the match.
The skirts of the ball girls were eventually replaced with longer shorts, although the crop tops remained. Tournament organizer Gerard Tsobanian expressed his disapproval that the finalists were not given the opportunity to interact with fans after their match.
The final match between Rybakina and Anhelina Kalinina at the Italian Open had to be postponed because of rain and did not begin until 11 p.m. on Saturday, according to former player Rennae Stubbs who called it an unacceptable situation.
The WTA stated to Reuters that rescheduling the match was the appropriate course of action.
In the upcoming weeks, there may be ongoing inquiries about scheduling due to the scrutiny of night sessions at last year’s French Open.
Out of the 10 evening games planned for 2022, only one included a women’s match – the second round match between Alizé Cornet and Jelena Ostapenko. Amelie Mauresmo, the tournament director, stated that men’s tennis is more appealing than women’s, to which Światek expressed disappointment in Mauresmo’s remarks.
The French Open this year boasts a wealth of star power.
Alongside the talented trio of Światek, Sabalenka, and Rybakina, the likes of Jessica Pegula, Caroline Garcia, Coco Gauff and Ons Jabeur – none of whom have won a grand slam – will be vying for the title at Roland-Garros.